Late Night TV Ratings For The Week Of May 14 - May 18, 2012

Categories: Late Night TV Ratings,Network TV Press Releases,Weekly Late Night TV Ratings

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May 24th, 2012

To see past weeks' Late Night TV ratings information click here.

Via NBC's Press Release





UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – May 24, 2012 – NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has averaged a 0.8 rating, 3 share in adults 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers overall for the week of May 14-18, delivering bigger audiences than CBS’s "Late Show with David Letterman" and ABC’s combination of “Nightline” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in total viewers, adults 18-34 and other key categories. Note that “Kimmel” was in rebroadcast on Monday, Tuesday and Friday last week.

At 12:35 a.m. ET, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" delivered bigger audiences than CBS's "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and ABC’s “Kimmel” in their head-to-head half-hour in adults 18-49, adults 18-34, adults 25-54 and total viewers. For the week, "Late Night" averaged a 0.5/3 in 18-49 and 1.6 million viewers overall.

Through the first 35 weeks of the season, "Tonight" has increased its total-viewer margin over "Late Show" to 15 percent (3.705 million vs. 3.220 million), up from the year-ago season-to-date advantage of 9 percent. Jimmy Fallon has also established a total-viewer lead over "Late Late Show" this season of 15 percent (1.763 million vs. 1.533 million), up from last year's advantage of 1 percent. Jimmy has also increased his season-to-date lead over "Late Late Show" in adults 18-34, to 41 percent (277,000 vs. 197,000) up from last year's 23 percent, and in adults 25-54, to 11 percent (862,000 vs. 778,000) up from 2 percent at this point last season.

(According to in-home viewing figures from Nielsen Media Research for the week of May 14-18. Ratings reflect “live plus same day” data from Nielsen Media Research unless otherwise noted. Season-to-date figures are averages of “live plus seven day” data except for the two most recent weeks, which are “live plus same day.”)

ADULTS 18-49

11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Tonight,” 0.8 rating, 3 share
CBS “Late Show,” 0.8/3

11:35 p.m.-12 midnight ET
ABC “Nightline,” 0.9/3

12 midnight-1 a.m. ET
ABC “Kimmel,” 0.5/2*

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Late Night,” 0.5/3
CBS “Late Late Show,” 0.4/2

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET
NBC “Last Call,” 0.3/2*


11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Tonight,” 3.4 million viewers
CBS “Late Show,” 3.2 million viewers

11:35 p.m.-12 midnight ET
ABC “Nightline,” 3.7 million viewers

12 midnight-1 a.m. ET
ABC “Kimmel,” 1.8 million viewers*

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Late Night,” 1.6 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 1.6 million viewers

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET
NBC “Last Call,” 0.9 million viewers*

* Friday’s “Last Call” and the Monday, Tuesday and Friday “Kimmel” telecasts were encores


ADULTS 18-49

11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Tonight,” 0.9 rating, 3 share
CBS “Late Show,” 0.8/3

11:35 p.m.-12 midnight ET
ABC “Nightline,” 0.9/3

12 midnight-1 a.m. ET
ABC “Kimmel,” 0.5/2

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Late Night,” 0.6/3
CBS “Late Late Show,” 0.5/3

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET
NBC “Last Call,” 0.3/2


11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Tonight,” 3.7 million viewers
CBS “Late Show,” 3.2 million viewers

11:35 p.m.-12 midnight ET
ABC “Nightline,” 3.9 million viewers

12 midnight-1 a.m. ET
ABC “Kimmel,” 1.8 million viewers

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET
NBC “Late Night,” 1.8 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 1.5 million viewers

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET
NBC “Last Call,” 1.0 million viewers




Comedy Central, 11-11:30 p.m. ET, “The Daily Show,” 0.3 (in encore telecasts)
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.-midnight ET, “The Colbert Report,” 0.3 (in encore telecasts)

TBS, 11 p.m.-midnight, “Conan,” 0.5**

Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET, 0.9
Adult Swim, 12:30-1:30 a.m. ET, 0.6

Each adult 18-49 rating point equals 1.28 million viewers


Comedy Central, 11-11:30 p.m. “The Daily Show,” 0.8 million (in encore telecasts)
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.-midnight ET, “The Colbert Report,” 0.6 million (in encore telecasts)

TBS, 11 p.m.-midnight, “Conan,” 0.9 million**

Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET, 2.0 million
Adult Swim, 12:30-1:30 a.m. ET, 1.4 million

** Monday’s “Conan” was an encore.

  • Brad

    Totally agree with you Mike. CNN definitely has its share of issues.

    Again, I think Conan should have called Leno. Not because of the B&C interview, but obviously Conan was very upset with Leno for wanting the 11:35pm slot. He should have called Leno to work things out between them. Instead, Conan took hits at Leno and NBC. I agree, they were well deserved, but that doesn’t get you what you want. It didn’t get Letterman or Conan what they wanted, The Tonight Show.

    By the way, why didn’t Leno ever say he had a pay and play clause in his contract with NBC, the reason why NBC can’t let him leave nor want to pay the huge payout that would be required if the contract was breached. The would have killed most of the drama right there because everybody would go “well no duh NBC has to stick it out with Leno.”

  • Chris

    In hindsight, it might have been cheaper for NBC to jettison Leno and allow the two cool dudes, Conan and Jimmy F., build their brands. Hard to imagine their demo ratings sinking as low as they are now.

  • Gary Middleton

    “The would have killed most of the drama right there because everybody would go “well no duh NBC has to stick it out with Leno.””

    Wouldn’t have changed a thing, Brad. The story was “Jay gave Conan the Tonight Show and then took it back.” Any more nuance wasn’t going to fly.

    When storytelling to the public, it generally has to be something you can distill down to one simple sentence. “Superman saves the planet”, “John Kerry is a flip flopper”, etc.

  • Gary Middleton

    “Hard to imagine their demo ratings sinking as low as they are now.”

    You don’t have much of an imagination. Demo ratings are at new lows all over the place in network TV.

  • Diana Santiago

    Just finished the Letterman interview, and there was NOT ONE mention of Jay Leno. Really awesome.

    Brad: I respectfully disagree. What would Conan say? “Hey Jay, what the hell is wrong with you? Why do you want to steal my job and the job of 200 staffers that were uprooted from their lives less than a year ago?” Definitely awkward.

    “By the way, why didn’t Leno ever say he had a pay and play clause in his contract with NBC, the reason why NBC can’t let him leave nor want to pay the huge payout that would be required if the contract was breached. The would have killed most of the drama right there because everybody would go “well no duh NBC has to stick it out with Leno.””

    That was a known fact at the moment. I’m sure there were confidentiality clauses involved. Drama was amplified by the media and the fact that everyone got sweet ratings from the situation.

  • Chris

    “You don’t have much of an imagination.”

    And you don’t have much of a personality. Shut the hell up for a change.

  • Brad

    I love Gary and Diana’s comments. They always shine a different light on a situation. I do agree with you in some sense Chris. I personally think it was a no brainer to pay Conan $45 million rather than pay Leno $150 million. Even looking back, do you think Conan could have sustained excellent ratings? We’ve seen how much his ratings are now relying on The Big Bang Theory, his current lead in, and NBC has put absolutely no great shows that would have supported Conan.

    However, this is where I agree with you Chris, NBC has to starting thinking longterm because they simply haven’t been. They always seem to think about how to make money today, not how to set up a network to be successful in the near-future.

  • Brad

    Diana, there is no doubt the phone call would have been awkward. I would have loved to learn what Leno would say in response to (your) Conan questions. I can’t imagine he could make up a good cause beyond he has a staff of 200 too looking to remain employed. Not everybody onboard Leno’s crew is as old as he and can just retire with the money they have.

  • Chris

    Who knows, hard to imagine the demo numbers going lower, despite what mr. obnoxious says.

    And Conan had a magical number Leno didn’t…median age. Conan’s viewers were in the 30s and 40s…Leno’s are drinking Metamucil and listening to Lawrence Welk.

  • Chris

    Another wildcard is Letterman. He had a ratings bump because of the goofy “scandal” he was in, plus the whole Palin drama. In addition, juiced by winning the ratings, Dave was putting on awesome shows. How long could he have kept that up?

    Once Leno returned, and the mediocre comedy amplified, Letterman was often losing again, and the spark disappeared.

  • Brad

    Very true Chris. They could have easily had 10 years of 0.9s rather than 5 years of Leno’s 0.9s. It would have been worth paying Leno off if there was a guarantee that Conan was going to not sustain those ratings, but build an audience throughout his 10 year stretch.

    But if you look at the current situation, NBC is very VERY fortunate to have Fallon. This Fallon can take over The Tonight Show and last even longer than Conan would have. This whole Tonight Show debacle of 2009 can really have been all worth while if Fallon takes over and is a success. All NBC has to do is find a good replacement for the Late Night show. I already have two in mind. Michael Ian Black (2nd place to Craig Ferguson in getting the Late Late Show) and Seth Meyers from SNL.

  • Chris

    You can just bet it’s going to be a bit ugly with Leno again.

    Say what you will, he won’t leave quietly. Call it how you will…end of contract, termination, canceled, parking pass revoked, etc, Leno will go out like a pre-schooler going on time out.

  • Chris

    And, at the time, I really thought that if NBC was unhappy with Conan, and knew, as I think they did, that Leno was going to tank upon the return, they should have gracefully, if possible, shifted Fallon to 11:30.

    And drop the name Tonight Show. It’s over.

  • Charles

    NBC is so desperate, it wouldn’t shock me, upon news of Letterman and Ferguson’s new deals, if they announce a new deal with Leno soon.

    Ten more years of those awesome headlines from supermarket trader magazines. Yeah.

  • Brad

    And yeah, poor Conan. Everything was just favored against him. Just one thing after another. So much was out of his control. Letterman’s sudden strength in shows, affiliates revolt, Leno’s contract, poor NBC public relations; just so much was against him. Yeah, I really do feel bad for him. Especially if he gets cancelled in 2014 by TBS and that’s the end of Conan’s late night career.

    But at some point you have to start taking some of the heat as it is you who is running making the show everyday. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is one of the highest rated shows on comedy central. South Park is the highest with 1.2’s/1.3’s and Stewart isn’t always second to Tosh.0. Conan is getting beaten but TBS’s reruns. That is absolutely terrible in comparison to CC’s shows. Conan really needs to make his show the hottest show ever. The Big Bang Theory can only bring attention to its audience about Conan’s show. AMC’s Mad Men, became a hit not because of its lead-in, a rerun of an “American Classic”, but because it was such a smart, intelligent show that people took note of it. Mad Men is a perfect show that has shown it doesn’t matter what network you are at, you just need to find a niche, put on a show people want, make it great, and get people to recognize that.

  • canobi

    Hey all. These comments are always an amusing read for a fan of “late night” outside of USA (from Europe in this case). There’s one thing we outsiders lack though – a sense of how cable compares to network, and how cable stations compare among themselves. For instance, my view with Conan getting a gig on TBS (a station I’ve never heard of), was something like “OK, he got the boot from network TV, he’s just going to wind down now and retire doing a low paying, low audience show until people around him manage to secure their (at least immediate) future”. OTOH, you guys talk about building an image on cable, building a comedy brand for TBS but also about how “noone is going to search for TBS just because of Conan”. So this is all a bit mistifying, especially taking into account Conan is losing in ratings to Comedy Central, a station I have known of for more than a decade through shows like South Park, so for me it is expected and logical. You all are, without a doubt, pretty informed about all this, but can anyone tell me whether an “average Joe” (i.e. the majority of US viewership) knows at all where and how to find TBS? What’s the positioning of cable in general versus network giants in the public’s consciousness? How are they accessed (is network always on the first few programs on your receiver boxes while cable are channel #521 or something alike) and how are they presented in media (from TV guide listings, to show marketing, press previews and anything similar). And how do TBS and CC compare in those respects? If anyone would care to shed some light on this for us “outsiders”, it would be appreciated.

  • Brad

    I’m going to try to answer as much as I can the best I can. It is very long, but it all makes sense in the end. It goes from building a station to the problems Conan has.

    Network television has a lot of money to invest in new shows and big budget shows as these networks have been around longer and have a better establishment than other stations. MTV and Comedy Central are very recent additions to cable launched in 1981 and 1991 respectively. When these first aired, both stations had to slowly build their network. MTV was filled with, well, music videos. Artists trying to create catchy videos to attract people to buy their new album. Slowly MTV bought shows that would catch with its audience. No network would want like Beavis and Butthead because of the show’s content and cheapness in animation. It isn’t a classy show for network but it gives something unique to their station.

    In the early days, “much of the programming on Comedy Central, and its predecessors, consisted of comedy films, sitcom reruns, half-hour specials and clip shows featuring comedians” This is a quick way to get the station started and then you start playing with the little things, like adding in an original show to get people to constantly tune it, not because there’s nothing else on TV. Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher was a show no network wanted. It was too controversial and feared it would exile some of its audience and give them a bad name. Comedy Central was desperate enough to accept and was willing to accept any backlash because all it would do is promote their name. Similar to MTV’s Beavis and Butthead. Both shows would cause controversy for both stations.
    Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) was bought by Time Warner (Warner Bros.) in 1996. Only a year afterward did TBS restructured there programming to be of comedy. They bought a lot popular syndicated shows like Home Improvement, Friends, Seinfeld, and Full House because it was the cheapest way to start a new station or rebranded version of your station. Slowly they began mixing original sitcoms with their reruns with much of the sitcom audience crossing over into all the shows.

    There is an issue though with all these stations, some more than others. When airing a rerun, it is very possible that people will stop watching them because they’ve seen an episode before. Not be bias, but I stopped watch That 70’s Show in reruns because I’ve seen them all before way too many times. These cable stations need original content to stay up in the ratings.

    Network television is different because their shows are almost always new. They only run reruns in between seasons or when a daily show like The Tonight Show is on vacation. With that and a lot of money spent on expensive dramas, comedies, reality shows, competion shows, etc.; you are going to get more people to watch your grade-A network show than they would watch third rate cable show.

    However, there has been a change in the way programming has been on cable stations. They have been able to spend more on quality shows that people are highly interested in. Shows like Mad Men on AMC and Burn Notice on USA are very high in the ratings. Higher than many network shows. Because these networks don’t have their own news cycle they have to rely on producing such a great show that TV critics rave about it in the media in magazine’s, in newspaper’s, and online. This gets people spread the good word about you creating a buzz about your show. Even people who never watched your show can talk to those who do and say “I heard it is a great show”. That is the kind of buzz these stations want and both USA and AMC are riding it well. USA is having more originals and AMC is having possibly even bigger hits than Mad Men with Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.
    But these are only two examples of stations making completive shows to network shows. FX is the only other one that has been doing well in creating quality shows like Rescue Me, Sons of Anrchy, The Shield, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia along with Discovery with Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch. Stations like Lifetime, E! Network, Bravo, SpikeTV, TruTV, and are no where near comparable to networks.

    Conan is an interesting case because he was able to generate quite buzz when he first came to TBS. The problem he faced was that the buzz started to fade and he had nothing to support him. He wasn’t apart of a network with a news cycle that show people of a recent funny sketch he did or joke he told. He also isn’t apart of a stations with a great primetime lineup to remind people to watch his latest show. Not only were they low in the ratings, a show’s audience like Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? are not interested in Conan. Conan also wasn’t giving the audience what they wanted. I’ve heard many reasons people left, and they left because he wasn’t producing the shows he used to back on NBC. Many said he too whiny and watching the show was just sad his first year. Of course a show’s ratings will always go after its premiere, but within one year he went from 4 million people to less than 1 million. Conan is in a tough spot. He needs to be very original for people to tune into a station.

    Show’s that aren’t on a network need some type of third-party to create that buzz again. Winning Awards and winning over critics is a big way to do it. Unfortunately, Conan’s relies too much on what is currently happening. If nothing much is happening in the news, his topical monologue of that night is not going to be a good one. Once the summer time is over or a television season is over, many of the A-list stars don’t need to plug their new movies or promote their TV show. He is also on four days a week and has to use any material they come up with, even if it isn’t so good. Basically, the quality of Conan’s show is variable to the present. Not very good when you need a Grade-A show every time you are aired to get the buzz you need for the masses to watch your show. Remember, your target audience is taking a leap of faith when they are watching you versus a network show that they feel the rest of the country is watching. (Remember, nobody wants to be out of the loop. Everyone wants to relate to others and say they saw American Idol Finale last night with millions of others).
    Conan is also in trouble because his show has no niche. It is a typical late night talk show. There are too many of those. The market if flooded. Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien all follow the exact same formula. AMC’s Mad Men is like no other show on television. The other late night hosts, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, follow a very different formula and do political satire rather than topical humor.

  • Gary Middleton

    “You can just bet it’s going to be a bit ugly with Leno again.”

    I’ll take the other side of that bet.

  • Brad

    Another problem Conan faces is that his show will never be syndicated. Whatever money TBS takes in this fiscal year is the only money the will ever take in from that season of Conan. Their other shows could eventually go into syndication like Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

  • Monikka


    You put a lot of thought into your post and I’m sure canobi will appreciate it.

    You said: “Show’s that aren’t on a network need some type of third-party to create that buzz again. Winning Awards and winning over critics is a big way to do it.”

    Cable shows are not absolutely dependent on 3rd-party buzz. TBS spent a fortune promoting Conan, with decidedly lackluster results. Winning awards certainly has worked for Stewart but Conan O’brien has won far, far more awards than he deserves. They don’t seem to have helped him in his current time slot and location.

    The syndication issue is not relevant to Conan’s particular situation. It applies to ALL talk shows and, if anything, should increase the urgency of viewing the shows now.

    Given your praise of Diana’s “I’m with Coco and have nothing substantive to add to that” blather, I’d say you have a sweet spot for Conan too. The “but he’s on cable” excuse is just another in a long line of Conan excuses.

    “Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien all follow the exact same formula.”

    That’s why I watch Ferguson. I’d love to see these other guys do a kick-ass monologue on the 200th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s birth.

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